Friday, February 29, 2008

The Great Hunt

Gen Hunt and DI Alex DrakeDon’t get me wrong, the previous episodes of Ashes To Ashes have all been brilliant but something about last night’s felt like they’d upped the ante to a new level. The dialogue was cracking and included some fantastic jokes (Gene Hunt: how many birds does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: two. One to run around screaming “What do I do? What do I do?” and the other one to shag the electrician.) The storyline was dark, dense and dynamically directed. The acting, as ever I have to say, was superb.

Definitely the best episode so far.

The relationship between Hunt and Drake is developing nicely and I like the fact the writer’s are not merely confining it to a simple will-they-won’t-they sexual stand off. Certainly the work based spats and the confrontational dialogue all hint at underlying sexual tension – and Hunt was certainly put to the test last night when, trapped in a sealed room, DI Drake stripped down to her red basque as the internal temperature soared. Standard police issue I assure you (the basque that is, not Hunt’s reaction). But in terms of physical expression Hunt’s feelings towards Drake appear to have an undeniably paternal edge. This is also backed up by Drake’s responses – teasing, simpering, pouting but ultimately deferential and seeking comfort. The naughty girl playing on her father’s affections. Knowledge that her parents are about to be killed by a car bomb – hence she grew up without a mother and a father – could also be feeding into Drake’s emotional responses towards Hunt of course but, whatever the reason, Hunt is unwittingly assuming a parental role in their stead.

The parent issue is, of course, one we’ve seen in the show’s previous incarnation – Life On Mars. There Sam Tyler returned to the 1970’s, a few weeks before his father mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again. Naturally the loss of a parent would impinge upon a child’s psyche hugely and maybe this provides the answer to why Tyler and Drake end up in their respective time periods. Who knows? But it does lend the psychology of the show a pleasing symmetry and consistency.

What is different about the two shows however is the ethos that drives the respective heroes. Unlike Sam Tyler DI Drake is very much “sexed up”. She’s flirty, knows how to use her looks and her physicality and is more than happy to do so – she’s already bedded a “Thatcherite wanker” in a previous episode – and seems unable to stop herself playing the breathy, slightly giggly Marilyn Monroe character around the boys in the office. Tyler on the other hand spent the whole two series’ of Life On Mars not getting into WPC Cartright’s knickers when it was clearly plain that he dearly wanted to. The poor boy lived like a monk. Drake on the other hand is living like a party girl and is up for absolutely everything.

And why the hell not? Drake after all represents the freedom and liberation of the modern woman which, while not being all that it should be in 2008, is still a lot better than it was in the 1980s. She’s intelligent, impulsive, intuitive, professional and sexual all at the same time. The same as her male colleagues in fact – so equality as near as damn it – though given the escapades of DS Ray Carling and DC Chris Skelton we could possibly scrub intelligence from the male version of the list. Though to be fair, Carling and Skelton are in the show essentially to provide light relief.

The sexism of the boys aside it was interesting to see Drake’s 2008 behaviour juxtaposed with the women’s libbers of the 1980s. In comparison to Drake they were almost in denial of their own sexuality yet at the same time prepared to use it as a clumsy weapon to get what they wanted from men – one of them used sex to get someone to spy for them. Of course it ended badly – the guy wanted more and became aggressive; he attempted rape and was killed in the ensuing struggle. The question is though: is Drake’s behaviour actually any more sophisticated or worthy of celebration?

The easy answer is yes. She’s not using sex as a bartering device but as pleasure for herself in its own right. But the issue is nevertheless complicated. The lines are blurred. Is Drake fighting the cause for all women or is she merely colluding with the male dominated world she now finds herself immersed in to get what she wants – to survive, to get back home to her daughter? Is she merely fighting for herself rather than for any cause at all? Ultimately though all of this is meant to be inside Drake’s head and merely reflects her own internal conflicts. But as we all know, microcosms can often be useful mirrors to the bigger and badder macrocosms that contain them...

The easy answer therefore is that there is no easy answer. And that’s fine by me.

I look forward to seeing the next stage of Drake’s journey unfold next week.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Run Forest Run

Forest Gump IS Captain Jack HarknessInnumerable shocks in the BBC's Torchwood last night.

Shock One: Owen is dead, then undead, then brings Death himself into the world who turned out to be a weird cloudy skeletal thing. Personally I was hoping for Grim from the Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy, but never mind...

Shock Two: Toshiko finally tells Owen that she loves him. But only after he's dead. What can I say? The woman likes a good stiff. Ironically though, being dead, Owen has no blood to move around his body. He can't get it up. He's about as much use as... as... well, Ianto actually.

Shock Three: Owen regurgitates gallons of beer like something out of The Exorcist or Bottom: Guest House Paradiso. Comedy effect of the night bar one...

But the biggest shock of all was realizing this:

Captain Jack Harkness runs like Forest bleeding Gump!

Geez, I always suspected that his mother was Sally Fields.

Photo Opportunity

Charley UcheaThis from Yahoo news this morning:

"Former Big Brother contestant Charley Uchea was threatened at gunpoint last night."

"Charley was attacked by four men who tried to carjack her Mercedes when she left nightclub Funky Buddha."

"A witness revealed that one man jumped on the bonnet of Charley's car while the others attacked her and her friend Sisi. The attackers then told the pair they were armed and would kill them if they didn't hand over the keys to the £35,000 car."

"Police escorted the 22 year old away in a police van and her car was taken to West End Central police station for further examination."

There you have it. Further proof that intelligence levels in this country are sinking to an all time low.

A man. A gun. And Charley "I'm a big BB mega star I am" Uchea.

The perfect opportunity and no one pulls the trigger.

Doh!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Can You Feel It?

Michael JacksonNo I'm not talking about a game of hunt the sausage with Michael Jackson, I'm talking about the earthquake that struck the UK at 1.0 am last night.

Apparently it measured around 5.2 on the Richter Scale and was centred somewhere in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.

The effects were felt all the way deep down in my neck of the woods in Warwickshire. Thankfully the only casualty in my house was a Lego Luke Skywalker figure who took a tumble from the top shelf and was later found by me, wedged (no pun intended Star Wars fans) behind some boxes on the floor. He was still gripping tight to his light saber, bless 'im.

That's the force for you.

Like I said: can you feel it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lily The Pink

Lily AllenThanks to the televisual smorgasbord that is Catch-Up TV, Karen and I happened to watch Lily Allen & Friends yesterday. We had a spare half hour to fill and just thought what the hell (we live right on the edge, we do).

I was pleasantly surprised which was a shock given that my first point of reference for this type of programme was the God-awful Charlotte Church Show. But whereas the latter was genuinely sloppy, haphazard and anarchic in a totally uncool and crap way, LA & Friends was contrived to be anarchic and shoddy in a very polished, carefully timed and sharply edited way... the result was a show that was far tighter than Charlotte Church’s g-string could ever hope to be.

Now there’s a turn up for the books. The Beeb down and cool with the kids while Channel 4 dances in the background like an embarrassing, piss stained uncle at a family wedding.

But this is by the by. LA & Friends works only because Lily Allen is engaging, socially adept, un-phased by fame and happy to just be herself. I always got the impression that the Charlotte Church “perceived persona” was constantly in the way of the real Charlotte Church to the point where it rugby tackled her to the ground every time she got a clear shot at a touchdown. Charlotte was awkward, slow to respond to cues from her guests and seemed unable to engage with anyone. The result was a flat, uncomfortable show with a huge identity crisis. Charlotte just didn’t know what she wanted to be and her show only amplified her confusion – Singer? Interviewer? Comedienne? Porn star? Welsh stereotype? She didn’t know and neither did we.

Lily Allen on the other hand is refreshingly just Lily Allen. And her show does exactly what it says on the tin.

My boy, Ben, fancies Lily something chronic and Karen and I both approve. As Karen says, Lily is nice... but not too nice; she’s a bit naughty too. Ideal girlfriend material... though thankfully her admission that she was caught giving head to a boy at school when she was 14 seemed to completely pass our 6 year old by as he busily played with his Lego Bionicles on the floor...

Phew.

The only thing I didn’t like was the premise behind the “& Friends”. This wasn’t a Bruce Forsythe-esque reference to Lily’s showbiz pals but to the audience members themselves. They were all people who’d signed up to Lily’s web page on the BBC site and become her “friend” in the same way that everyone under 15 these days has 547 friends they’ve never actually met / shared an exchange with on their Facebook account. Really the show should be called Lily Allen & Stalkers.

Basically these Lily fans earned their place in the show’s audience pit by submitting embarrassing (probably apocryphal) anecdotes about themselves. You know the type of thing: “please tell us something really zany / rude about yourself for a chance to appear on the show...”

Hence Lily was able to spotlight one lady who’d given her BF a BJ to settle a £500 debt and a man who’d broken his thumb in a rushed masturbatory session that was interrupted by his GF coming home from work too early.

Hardly people you’d like to have as friends – let along want to shake hands with... I mean, can you imagine? Urgh.

There is something ineffably unhealthy about people who are so desperate to get on TV that they’ll happily admit to things on camera that would normally get them lampooned out of their local boozer back home in Nowhereville.

I wouldn’t want them anywhere near my Facebook page... (or my face for that matter).

My advice to Lily is simple: drop the “friends” – you don’t need them.

It’s better to be Lily No-Mates than Lily Nob-Mates.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Backlog And Block

Keeley HawesWords, words everywhere and not a word to write.

Or something like that.

I can't even come up with anything remotely clever or "literary" today.

It's been a frustrating week. I haven't been able to do as much writing as I would have liked. The blog has suffered. My novel has suffered. I feel stretched in far too many different directions. I suspect the main reason is I have an essay to write for University and it's hanging over me like the sword of Damocles. In itself it's not too onerous a task to accomplish. 4000 words is pretty meagre by my wordy standards. A couple of days and it'll be done.

However, we've got to come up with our own essay titles.

Sounds a wonderful opportunity doesn't it?

But I'll be blowed if I can come up with a title that doesn't sound limp, lame or just plain lobotomized. I know what I want to write about but I just can't bring it all together into a neat, academically satisfying little package.

Not a global disaster by any means but I'm one of those sadsacks who cannot relax until a set task is completed. I hate having something hanging over me. Absolutely loathe it. Karen on the other hand is happy to leave things to the very last minute. How do people do this? I almost envy her the ability.

Anyway. I feel like I just can't relax and write anything properly or with any kind of enjoyment until the essay is completed... and I'm stumbling at the first hurdle: the title. It doesn't bode well.

As for the picture of Keeley Hawes...

Well. Eye candy. A spoonful of sugar and all that.

Completely unjustified and all the sweeter for it. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Birthdays, OAPS And Asbestos

The high life yesterday – well, as close to it as one can get on local authority wages. I lavished Karen with loads of pressies on account of it being her birthday (I shall be a gentleman and not tell how old) and took her for a wonderful meal at The Saxon Mill, a lovely pub / restaurant just outside Warwick. Tom accompanied us too though he declined the sumptuous menu and instead stuck with his own supply of bottled provisions. Good lad – already looking after his daddy’s wallet.

The low life today – back at work earning local authority wages to pay for the meal and the presents above. No sumptuous meal this lunchtime but instead an asbestos survey being carried out by a third party contractor. Our H&S bods ticking yet another H&S box. I doubt very much that they’ll find anything but it’s got my skin crawling just thinking about it. Not sure why. Does asbestos make you itch?

And the afternoon can only get better. I have about 5 “old dears” coming to see me for some PA system training. They’re members of a local “friends” group who regularly help out the gallery where I work with various fundraising events and organized talks. Sort of an octogenarian WI. Calendar Girls without Helen Mirren, Julie Walters or appetizing jugs of any sort.

For their meetings and talks they like to utilize our PA System – a relatively simple piece of kit that they merely need to switch on. Unfortunately, whether due to their venerable ages or their collective horn-rimmery, they manage to mess it up every single time and then complain that the PA system doesn’t work, blah blah blah, tea doesn’t taste like it used to, blah blah, aren’t policemen getting younger these days and you spring chickens never show us oldies any respect at all ever.

So. I am giving them a free training session today on how to flick a single switch from the OFF to the ON position.

Laugh if you must but it’s your council tax that’s paying for it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ne’er Be Well

I had to accompany the council’s Health & Safety Officer on a Health & Safety Inspection of the building yesterday.

It’s one of the many joys of my job.

2 whole hours of looking for trip hazards, checking for correct fire safety signage, electrical service conformity to various regulatory bodies, recommended lighting levels and ergonomic workstation risk assessments... oh bliss.

As you can imagine, I could barely contain myself.

Why is it that all H&S officers are not so much devoid of a sense of humour but lumbered with one so socially inept that they refuse to laugh at anybody else’s jokes while making determined efforts to constantly crack their own?

And why is it that I feel obliged to play along with it?

Anyway, I had to give up faking my laughter about half way round. The cold / virus / bug thing that has plagued me for the last 5 weeks has now plummeted down to my chest and is forcing me to cough and hack up my lungs like an asthmatic coal miner. There was so much sputum flying around the H&S guy ended up looking like Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters.

However, inspection-wise we did ok. The guy had to find something to pick us up on – naturally – but it was all minor stuff; easily sorted. Generally though we passed muster.

Good-oh.

I on the hand, handkerchief pressed to my mouth like a consumptive, was condemned as a H&S hazard. If I don’t get better soon I just might find myself Risk Assessed out of a job.

Hmm. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Snooker Loopy Nuts

The gorgeous Keeley Hawes and her amazing pink nosed puppies...
I’m loving Ashes To Ashes.

I’m loving the music – Visage, OMD, Vangelis – though I’m a little perturbed by how many of these quintessential eighties tracks I still play regularly on my MP3 player. Stuck in a time warp? Who me? (Have I gone back in time? Am I in a coma? Am I insane? Etc, etc...)

I’m loving Gene Hunt’s interrogation techniques – pin your chosen scrote down across a snooker table, spread his legs, line up your cue and slam the pink into the top corner pocket.

Pot black indeed.

I’m loving the clothes and the make-up – white jackets, red and black colour combos, hair swept back on one side, Siouxsie Sioux eyeliner.

But most of all I’m loving Keeley Hawes as DI Drake.

The woman seems to be constantly drunk. Not that she’s a hard ligging boozer or anything; she’s just totally intoxicated by her circumstances...

Unlike Sam Tyler who experienced his time in the 1970’s as a bad trip – all paranoia, angst and the fear – Drake is living her time in the 1980’s as a lucid dream. Her ethos seems to be, as this is all happening inside my head I can do whatever the hell I like.

The result is interesting. It gives her character a tragic-positive spin as she flirts not just with those around her but also with the entire eighties construct that her mind has created whilst retaining an awareness of how badly some of the events she is now reliving actually turn out.

It gives the show a far lighter touch while at the same time allowing it to probe deeply into the blacknesses that lurk on the edges of Drake’s psyche – the death of her cold, calculating, career minded mother for one thing. Drake’s childhood was obviously very dark and I think a few more ghosts are going to come out of the woodwork before the series ends to challenge her glib responses to her predicament.

Yes, in relation to Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes, is undoubtedly formulaic but to my mind it’s a formula that works. Ashes To Ashes is essentially a mirror to Life On Mars – its missing, long lost twin – with Gene Hunt acting as the bridge between the two. DI Drake is the yang to Sam Tyler’s Yin. The light to his dark. The female aspect to his male.

Quite where Gene Hunt fits into this faux Eastern philosophy I don’t know.

I’m just hoping that DI Drake has the good sense not to challenge him to a game of bar billiards after work...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Streetlamp Sputters

Tasty Toshiko SatoIt’s probably naught but delusion and arrogance on my part but I am convinced that the writers of Torchwood are paying attention to me.

Can it only be last week that I called for a nice, sensitive soul mate for Toshiko – somebody who would revitalize and titillate her feng shui, respond to her dazzling intellect and persuade her to wear lower cut tops and mini skirts?

Ok. So Adam ‘the memory fiend’ was hardly nice or sensitive (though convincing Ianto that he was a serial rapist and murderer possibly makes him a comedian) but he did deliver on the lower cut tops and the shorter skirts. For this alone he has my undying thanks.

The Radio Times blurb for this episode promised that Toshiko would be transformed into a “sexually voracious” vamp.

Oh good-oh!

But what did we get? A tiny bit of spooning on the bed and a bit of moist lipped pouting. Oh and Toshiko’s oft hidden bosom thrust provocatively into Owen’s face. That’s hardly what I call “sexually voracious”.

But I suppose this is the BBC. So what did I expect?

Hence I was a bit disappointed on that score. Sigh... two paces forward and one pace back, etc... but a plunging neckline is still better than a smack in the kisser with a dead alien blowfish.

As for the story. At last! Some decent sci-fi! I was gobsmacked. The script was good, the acting top notch and the plot was actually really well handled and emotive. And they packed an awful lot into one hour.

Most of all though, I felt actual sympathy for all the characters. This is a Torchwood first. A character driven storyline rather than one reliant on BBC standard special effects and second rate Americanisms! Wow! Torchwood in top-notch British drama shock!

Karen and I watched the entire episode in silence and when it was over just turned to each other and said, “That was good.”

Stuff the Baftas, that’s an accolade worth having.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Nice To Be Needed

I'm off sick from work again today due to the fact the infection has spread to my other eye: I woke up with my face glued literally to my pillow this morning. Thankfully we're separated now but it wasn't at all pleasant at the time and put me right off my cornflakes.

Another trip to the doctor before lunch resulted in a horrible orange luminous dye being dropped into my eyes so the doctor could check for damage to the cornea. Thankfully there is none. Phew. He's also given me the name of some different sorts of eye drops which I may purchase as and when I see fit as my current ones seems to be causing my eyes considerable pain and aggravation...

But not nearly as much as my place of work.

I've just had a very polite but effectively nagging phone call from one of my work colleagues asking me when I'm liable to return to duties as tomorrow would be a big help because we're expecting a really big delivery of something or other and it would be useful if you were around to help carry it up the stairs to the offices... although there's really no rush as we can easily reschedule the delivery for when you do return...

Sheesh. They're all heart. Waiting for little old me.

Sigh.

I've told them I'll be in tomorrow.

Let's just hope I don't fall up the stairs, break a bone or two and sue their heartless asses for every penny they've got, eh?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bin Thief

I realize that this event in no way compares to happenings elsewhere over the weekend – oil rig bomb threats and fires in Camden, etc – but it has riled me nonetheless.

Last Thursday the local council delivered to all its district householders green bins for the recycling of garden waste. Karen and I were pleased because (a) we like to think we’re pretty green minded anyway and (b) we’ve got a shedload of chopped brambles and cuttings that need disposing of.

Late Thursday night – within hours of the bin being delivered – it was stolen by a zealous gardener of unknown identity... though I believe in this case this particular Monty Don favoured certain varieties of hop as opposed to hyacinths and hollyhocks.

The next morning, on finding I’d been the victim of a bin-napping, I was rather gobsmacked and more than a little annoyed. Everybody in the entire town is getting a bin. Everybody! So why go to all that trouble to nick one?

To make it worse I naturally rang the council, explained what had happened and requested a replacement bin if at all possible. I was told it was indeed possible but they could only replace the bin provided I gave them a police crime incident number first.

Yes.

I had to ring the police, ask them to halt all their ongoing murder enquiries, report that my new bin was stolen, get a crime number from the disbelieving police officer and then ring the council straight back with it.

Aside: ringing the police took two attempts as the first time I rang I was told they were all at lunch and could I please ring back after 2pm?

Oh how I love the country England is turning into.

I hope the life of whoever has stolen our bin provides them with enough crap for them to make good use of it.

I am now off to the doctors. I woke up with an eye infection today – gummy eye and blurred vision.

I am not in a good mood.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Nice Drop Of Bolly

The gorgeous Keeley HawesAshes To Ashes didn’t disappoint. Not at all.

If anything it hit the ground running with its shoulder pads glistening in the eighties sunshine. Not unlike Keeley Hawes’ character, DI Drake, in fact. She was sussed, analytical, self aware and responded with breathtaking intelligence to her predicament.

She was also as foxy as hell. As one of Gene Hunt’s sidekicks, Ray Carling, so eloquently put it: she’s got an amazing pair of puppies.

To be fair this comment was provoked somewhat by the fact she’d made her grand entrance into 1981 dressed as a high class hooker. A sure-fire way to grab everyone’s attention. I must admit I found myself wondering if this guise was a cheeky play on Keeley’s name – Keeley Hawes.

Geddit?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Anyway, I admit I had reservations regarding Ashes To Ashes. Life On Mars was such an amazing show that I couldn’t help but feel that any spin-off would be at best second rate and a cheap, easy-write tie-in to boot. So it was really great to discern that Ashes To Ashes has enough strength and power of its own to stand on its own two feet and give Life On Mars a bloody good run for its money. There’s a different feel and look to the show – not just because of the eighties mis-en-scene – but also embedded in the writing itself. The style is lighter and more humorous though without any loss of depth. The dialogue is sharp and slick. The action has substituted a little of the stodgy 70’s grit with an injection of eighties gloss and glitter. And the music... ah the music is wonderful. This was my era. It feels like coming home.

Just hearing The Passions’ I’m In Love With A German Film Star sent shivers down my spine. Dedicated readers of this blog will know how much I adore this track...

Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt is brilliant. Brooding, uncool yet cool, flippant, sexist, bullish and the most quotable cop on TV since, well, since John Thaw in The Sweeney. But there’s a softer side to him now too. He’s more aware of himself. Aware of the constraints that his police force now operate under. There’s a caring side to balance out the tit-grabbing misogynist – the scene where he puts a blanket over the sleeping Drake was a nice touch.

The references to Sam Tyler from Life On Mars are intriguing too and up the mystique. Apparently after 7 years with Hunt’s team he died... but no body was ever found. This leaves us to speculate pleasurably on his whereabouts – has he died, passed over, moved on to somewhere else? Who knows? It’s just nice to wonder.

Mostly though Ashes To Ashes works so well and so boldly because of Keeley Hawes’ canny portrayal of DI Drake. She’s not as confused or as lost as Sam. She’s sussed. She’s quick and intelligent. Razor sharp in fact. She knows exactly where she is and has some idea of what she needs to do to get herself out of it. Her continual wry analysis of her predicament, far from lumbering us with a tedious, unnecessary narrative, actually lends the show a witty, incisive underpinning. It also adds a fabulous fire and panache to her interactions with the dour Gene Hunt (who is self aware and wry in a different way).

In fact the relationship between Drake and Hunt is the real star of the show. Mutual attraction and revulsion is equal measure. Sparks and spit flying with every word and look. Marvellous. Full of potential and great to watch. I’m not sure who is going to hit who first.

Bliss.

I’ve a feeling that the further adventure of Gene Hunt and “Bollinger Knickers” are going to become essential viewing over the next few weeks. I’m breaking out the shoulder pads already...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Meat Feast

MeatloafI wasn’t going to write about Torchwood today, saving myself instead for the Gene Hunt-esque glories of Ashes To Ashes tonight but last night’s episode just sparked off far too many thoughts for me to leave it alone.

Firstly, the plot revolved around a huge alien that some nasty men were carving up alive as a source of cheap meat. No matter how much they sliced off, the thing just kept regenerating and growing bigger and bigger.

Now that’s what I call a real cash cow.

Anyway the alien looked like a cross between a huge meatloaf with eyes and a giant sock puppet from Playschool circa 1975. I half expected it to have coat button eyes. Even more curious, Captain Jack seemed to empathise with it in a closed-eyes, hands held out, hippy kind of way.

I’m not sure what the writer’s were trying to suggest with Jack’s latent ability to identify with a humungous piece of meat but hey...

Also the entire Torchwood team ended up in the back of a meat van (curiously un-refrigerated) at one point. Again, I found myself wondering if this was at all significant or symbolic...

And Gwen.

Gwen, Gwen, Gwen. Bless her freckly gap-toothed cutie-pie face. She did a lot of impassioned reasoning with her boyfriend, Rhys, last night. Lots of fists clenched tightly and slapped rhythmically against her admittedly impressive bosom.

It reminded me of someone and it took me until the end of the episode before I finally twigged who it was.

Bonnie Tyler.

I’m not joking. Acquire a clip of Gwen with her little fists hammering against her own chest furniture and stick “It’s A Heartache” behind it and I swear to God you will not be able to discern the difference between the pair of them. Gwen and Bonnie that is.

And finally... Ianto is doing his best to turn into Patrick Macnee and Tosh is chasing Owen. No no no to the latter. Owen is patently wrong for Tosh. She needs a sensitive soul who can revitalize and titillate her feng shui, respond to her dazzling intellect and persuade her to wear lower cut tops and mini skirts.

Oh and possibly thigh-length boots (stiletto heels optional).

Owen is too rough and, dare I say it, too tiresomely chauvinistic. And he has a mouth like Morph from Take Hart. Hardly suitable boyfriend material for a delicate Asian wallflower.

Other than that did I enjoy it, I hear you ask...

Curiously yes. Oddly emotive and decently weighty.

One big annoyance though: Gwen’s boyfriend, Rhys. What is she doing with him? The guy is a buffoon. A plonker of the first order. He sees an alien himself but then refuses to believe Gwen when she reveals that she sees them on a daily basis. Gah! The man is a huge, lumbering, brain-stem free, meat-head.

The nasty men should have been carving him up instead...

Another slice, anyone?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ketchup

This is going to be a very messy post I’m afraid.

I seem to have been all over the place of late, constantly trying to catch up on my life and not at all succeeding. I owe far too many people emails. I have little projects around the house which I’m no nearer to completing than I was over the Christmas break. My novel, although not at all falling by the wayside, is languishing slightly under the cold shoulder of relative neglect... I’m still plugging away at it but my progress has been slow over the last few weeks. I just haven’t been able to spend enough time getting back into it after the New Year hiatus. Not that it’s doing too badly: 102,100 words and counting... just counting extremely slowly.

I can’t deny it; my energy and inspiration levels have dropped significantly since the New Year.

I’m sure it’s just a seasonal thing but I do find under achievement very frustrating... even though the old plate is actually pretty full at the moment. Karen’s mum is still in hospital though Karen hasn’t visited her for a week or two due to illness – she and Tom and myself have all been afflicted with the post-Christmas lurgy that’s been doing the rounds. Plus Tom is having periodic bouts of teething and is currently recovering from the mother of all nappy rashes. None of which is conducive to sticking a baby into a car seat for 4 hours to drive up and down the country to visit someone who doesn’t even appreciate it.

Sorry. I was going to give the anger thing a rest.

University continues well though, even there, I can tell that I’m slowly reaching the end of my tether. Another 12 months and it’ll all be over and I’ll be indescribably glad. The constant outlay of money and energy is wearing me thin. Doing a part-time degree has been great in many respects – I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise – but 10 years slogging back and forth is way, way too much. I’m happy to commit to long-hauls but even I have a limit.

The web site business also continues apace. A constant background hum of extra work and toil sloshed onto my plate. It’s time consuming, tiring and frequently tedious but it does bring in much needed extra money. And God knows I need it – I’ve got Karen’s birthday fast approaching this month plus Valentine’s Day on top. My budget is as shot as a suicide bomber in Dimona. Sorry. Bad taste. But topical. And really I’m finding that difficult at the moment.

And TV at the moment – usually my hardy standby in terms of blog-worthy material – is ineffably flat. Sure there’s Torchwood and there’s Lark Rise To Cranford. And Ashes To Ashes starts this week... but it’s not impinging on me like it used to. I have no real enthusiasm for new stuff at the moment and it’s frightening. About the only thing that’s excited Karen and me with regards the telly is working out how to use the Catch Up TV feature on our Virgin box. But this just means we’re watching “old” stuff out of sync with the rest of the country. Lost in our own private TV schedule.

All in all I feel like some kind of weird psychological hibernation process is occurring in my brain. Like I’m not fully engaging with the world around me. Like I’m a record being played at the wrong speed. Mind you as long as it’s not Whitesnake I really shouldn’t complain too much.

Mainly though I’m just annoyed with myself. Annoyed because on the whole I have very little to complain about so why am I so full of moans? Other people are having a much rougher time. I’m just feeling a bit blurgh. And that hardly makes for a decent blog post.

Monday, February 04, 2008

At War With The World

I’m not sure who fired the first shot but the battle lines have undoubtedly been drawn this morning. My enemy seems to be everywhere. Not in full view like a Napoleonic regiment but instead secreted behind every window and street corner... a host of snipers hidden at every vantage point as I go about my day to day business.

There’s nothing fatal about their attacks but they’re debilitating. Their ammunition is irritation and annoyance. They’re fighting a war of attrition to wear me down.

And it’s working.

Every job I undertake is interrupted with the pressing needs of three others. Keys required for various work tasks seem to just walk away by themselves or vanish into thin air. My computer is on a go slow – I’m not joking; my paperclip tray has more processing power than my PC at the moment. My telephone is refusing to work... I swear to God it is connecting to numbers that I haven’t even dialled.

And my pens.

Even my pens have turned against me.

I got into work this morning to find their tops have all mysteriously been chewed over the weekend.

I, personally, do not chew pens. I do not chew pencils, crayons, biros, paint brushes or anything in fact except food. I don’t even chew chewing gum.

So how the hell has that happened? Or perhaps rather, why?

If the world wants to fight dirty, so be it.

As of now the gloves are off.